I’ve written previously about the commandment to “love thy neighbor as thyself”, though, like most people who write about it, I’ve focused on the “love thy neighbor” part. It occurred to me recently that there’s a lot to be mined in the second part of that commandment – to love ourselves.
In what way are we to love ourselves? We are to love ourselves in the same way we are to love our neighbors. And we are to love our neighbors in the same way that Christ loves us. “A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. ”  Therefore, we are to love ourselves the same way Christ loves us.
We are to love ourselves completely, recognizing that we are made in the image of God. I have a much easier time being kind, charitable, forgiving, and generous toward others than toward myself. We’re socialized, especially as women, to ignore our needs and to feel righteous in doing so. Having needs is seen as “selfish”.
I rent spare rooms in my house on airbnb. I put in my listing that check-in time is between 4 and 10 pm. If I can accommodate someone who wants to arrive at 3 or at 11, I usually will; travel is stressful. Someone wanted to check in between 4 and 7 am because they have stuff to do during the day and would miss the check-in window. I stuffed down my annoyance and said that they could drop their stuff off no earlier than 6 but that the room wouldn’t be ready until 4 pm. They said okay. I got up at the crack of dawn to prepare for their arrival. At 5:15 am I got a text saying they were in town and asking if they could come over early. I ignored the text. At 5:30 am they called and asked if they could come over early. I said fine, since I was already up. They didn’t show up until 6:15.
The world wouldn’t have ended if I had enforced check-in hours, and next time I will, because I love myself enough to allow myself to get a good night’s sleep. There’s a reason we’re told to put our own oxygen masks on before helping others. If we don’t care for ourselves, we won’t be able to care for others.
I’m not perfect at it yet, not even close. I still say things to myself I would never dream of saying to others or allowing others to say to my friends. But I’m getting there. I’ve given myself permission to consider my needs to be as important as the needs of others. After all, it’s a commandment. John 13:34